For three and a half years I viewed no adult media; a fact resulting from much love and grace offered by God and family. But internally I began to waiver, though I was largely unaware of the turmoil inside. I placed my identity in my personal achievements and the opinions of others. My heart was bending toward what the world had to offer. I believed God owed me because I followed the rules.
From the outside, my life looked good. I was a young husband and a new father. We had just purchased our first house which was a dream-come-true for a couple barely into their twenties. I had a great job and on the board for a pregnancy care center. I even preached occasionally at our small church and led a weekly Bible study. I thought I met all the expectations of good Christian husband and father.
But inside, I was restless and terrified. How long could I actually maintain this image of being perfect when I felt so fragile and insecure?
Our debt was rising every month and our hope for financial freedom was diminishing. I reduced my work hours to remain home and help raise our infant daughter. Bills were stacking up higher and faster than expected. We would not be able to maintain our standard of living and status quo without significant changes. But I feared those changes would expose me as flawed and I wouldn’t risk losing the mask that I believed was necessary for the good opinion of others.
So I pressed onward valiantly in spite of the futility of trying harder and the depression that crept in.
I started to make a few minor compromises online, excusing a few quick clicks toward slightly mature images… but nothing that bad, I told myself. Mostly just news or media to distract me from the challenges of our financial situation and my fear of what others might think of me. I constantly begged God to to deliver us from debt and, since He was, apparently, not fixing the problem, I started to secretly resent Him. He wasn’t helping me with my plans to chase the American dream, achieve my parents’ current standard of living, or maintain a reputation of being responsible and wealthy. Of course, I still thought I loved God, but my time spent in silent devotions and prayer became progressively ‘unproductive’ and I felt detached from Him.
I still remember my personal sense of horror immediately after masturbating to a pornographic video one night in our bedroom. How had I come this far? I had promised my wife, before we were married, that I would keep no secrets and that, if I ever struggled with porn again, I would confess it to her.
I was faithful to that promise and told her the next day with much fear and the sensation of a giant rock in my stomach. She was incredibly gracious and quick to forgive. We both hoped it was just a hiccup and would be quickly forgotten.
But I had no one else to talk to without the risk of exposing my failures, so I kept it to myself and remained isolated from the support I needed from other men.
Over the following months, I relapsed and confessed a couple more times. Still, I was convinced that I didn’t need help and could handle things on my own. My wife did not share my confidence, and graciously emailed a ministry on my behalf for sex addicts called 423 Men. She recommended I call to join.
I was sure I would be in and out of 423 Men in no time. I was just having a little trouble and was definitely not an addict. When I learned from in 423 that sexual recovery can take two to five years for an addict, I didn’t believe it. I assumed I would be ‘recovered’ in a matter of months.
My first 423 Men was incredibly accepting and loving. I was able to open up about my fears and failures without being judged and was encouraged by others who earnestly sought sobriety and integrity. I met one of my closest friends and mentors in that group.
However, life didn’t suddenly get easier and my craving for a sexual fix didn’t vanish. But, while other areas of my life began to shift dramatically. the support and care I received from my 423 Men group remained constant. I honestly don’t know how I would have endured the following years without support from 423.
With the strain of our finances, my ongoing struggle with porn, as well as many of other factors, my wife began to question her own identity. She became severely depressed and lost all hope in God, our community, and our marriage. She soon decided to walk away from all of it. My efforts to reassure my wife of my love and convince her to stay hopeful were all in vain. I found myself again single and alone. My only real joy was sharing the responsibility of co-parenting our little daughter.
It’s hard to quantify the impact and damage of my addiction had in my marriage and life. I ran to porn, and its false promise of hope and intimacy. But my addiction did nothing to resolve the ache in my soul. Porn would never help me answer the question: “Who am I?” My pursuit of porneia only added to the pain and the shame that was already there.
I’ve learned so much in 423 since joining several years ago. I’ve learned that the Lord remains faithful even in the midst of chaos, pain, failure, and addiction. Psalm 103 says He is gracious and merciful abounding in steadfast love and kindness. He removes our sins from us as far as the east from the west.
Even when our souls and our lives are a compete wreck, He doesn’t stop loving, He doesn’t stop listening, He doesn’t stop pursuing. His relentless love outshines anything we could possibly fathom and His kindness leads us to repentance.
In my heart, I have loved and pursued the world along with it’s promotion of lust and definition of free sex. But nothing the world offers actually brings life. All of it is fleeting.
A battle rages in my heart between two powerful forces… My love of the world (which brings death) and my love for God and His kingdom (which brings life). I must daily reset my heart and place my eyes upon that which is truly life; that is, Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
Friendship with the world is enmity with God and God has called me His friend. He has bent over backwards to love me, to redeem me, and to grant me eternal life with Him in heaven. How could I trade that kind of love for the counterfeit love which the world offers? This is my new purpose, to love God and to love people.
As for the future, I still have so many questions but I am sure of this: the Lord will not abandon me nor will He ever forsake me. He will grant me the victory. No pain, addiction, fear, or circumstance will have the final word over my life. God will have the final word and I know He has incredible plan for me. Before my struggles ever began, God had a plan to redeem me, and I can’t wait to see His plan unfold.
I thank Jesus daily for the community God has given me in 423 Men.
Would you like to join a group of men, women, or young people fighting against pornography and the spirit of porneia? Join a 423 Communities group today.